Core Beliefs

“Recovery is a resumption of the work that was not completed when the woman was a girl. It is a coming into her own. It is an opportunity to resume the normal process of development that was sidetracked, perhaps first by constrained roles, perhaps by trauma, and then multiplied many times by hiding in the addiction. Her development was sidetracked by not accepting her needs as legitimate and not finding healthy ways to meet them, by not even knowing her needs. And so this is what recovery is: a developmental process of finding and building a new self. Recovery is a process of radical growth and change. When you are in recovery, you give birth to a new self. […] Many women initially think that recovery means a move from bad to good. They think that being addicted is evidence of shameful neediness, of deep and lasting failures. Recovery is not a move from bad to good, but from false to real. […] It is reality, being real, that now guides her rather than her efforts to be good or bad.”         Stephanie Brown

Addictions are the bandages covering the wound of not feeling worthy. I just discovered in 2010, that my primary addiction was to my family of origin—the family I grew up in. I have a picture of myself at age 5 which is about when I started thinking that I was terribly unfit to be in this family. There was always fighting, drama and violence. We had our loving times, too. I believe that my parents did the best they could. When describing those years, I love what ACA says about The Problem: “This is a description, not an indictment.”

But until I began healing my painful self beliefs, my self-confidence was very fragile. As I allowed those beliefs to change and become my new foundation, I became a person unafraid of what harm anyone could do to me. After I learned to love all of me, I was able to accept the rejection of others. I saw that they were just like me–they were only rejecting themselves. All hatred is really self-hatred.

Because my parents never resolved their power struggle, I was elected “it”. That way each parent could find ways I was “wrong”. Emotionally, I was an island. I can not remember when I was elected the “tie-breaker”. But I can say, it was a thankless job.

After I was sober for 6 months, my husband, daughter, and I were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I stayed there for five years. One of the times when I returned to visit my parents, I knew I had to get out of this hotseat of being in “control”. So one Sunday, we spent 3 hours in debate about whether to go to the Youngstown mall or the Pittsburgh mall. They were pretty equidistant so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was who would be “right” and who would be “wrong”.

I decided to stay completely out of it. I am not much of a shopper so I could have cared less. But I used to get high on that feeling of fake power by making “the” decision. Being in recovery I was slowly learning the games I played to feel good about myself were the games that were keeping me from being free.

“When our boundaries are intact, we know that we have separate feelings, thoughts, and realities. Our boundaries allow us to know who we are in relation to others around us. We need our boundaries to get close to others, since otherwise we would be overwhelmed. Boundaries ensure that our behavior is appropriate and keep us from offending others. When we have healthy boundaries, we also know when we are being abused. A person without boundaries will not know when someone is physically, emotionally, or intellectually violating them.”     Rokelle Lerner

From ACA Red Book; Chapter 1

“The adult child syndrome is somewhat interchangeable with the diagnosis of codependence. There are many definitions for codependence; however, the general consensus is that codependent people tend to focus on the wants and needs of others rather than on their own. by doing so, the codependent or adult child can avoid his or her own feelings of low self-worth. This is the sixth trait of the 14 traits. A codependent focuses on others and their problems to such an extent that the codependent’s life is often adversely affected. In addition to emotional suffering, codependents can suffer from serious or chronic physical illnesses. The illnesses include stomach problems, severe headaches, insomnia, colon problems, and skin ailments in addition to other physical problems.”

“In ACA, we realize we could not have reacted another way given our dysfunctional upbringing. As children, we focused on the odd or neglectful nature of our parents’ behavior. We mistakenly thought we cause their moods or attitudes or could do something to change circumstances. We did not realize that we were children and that adults were responsible for their own feelings and actions. Many of us thought we cause our parents’ addiction. We took responsibility for their drinking and drugging, thinking we could make them stop, slow down, and eventually love us. As children, we took responsibility for our parents’ anger, rage, blame, or pitifulness. We were children, but we unknowingly took responsibility for our parents’ feelings and poor behavior. This mistaken perception, born in childhood, is the root of our codependent behavior as adults. By living with a blaming or shaming parent, we developed a dependent, false self. Our false self constantly seeks outward affection, recognition, or praise, but we secretly believe we don’t deserve it. Meanwhile, the Inner Child is driven inward into hiding. The false self is the adult child personality expressed in the 14 Traits of The Laundry List.”

“People lack boundaries because they have a high level of neediness (or in psych terms, codependence). People who are needy or codependent, have a desperate need for love and affection from others. To receive this love and affection, they sacrifice their identity and remove their boundaries. (Ironically, it’s the lack of identity and boundaries that makes them unattractive to most people.)”

“People who blame others for their own emotions and actions do so because they believe that if they put the responsibility on those around them, they’ll receive the love they’ve always wanted and needed. If they constantly paint themselves as a victim, eventually someone will come save them.”      Mark Manson